GIVEN the rapid population growth and increased investments post-Covid-19 pandemic, Cebu needs to have additional power plants, officials of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said.
This is to strengthen the province’s current power capacity, augment power reserves and facilitate the growth in businesses and investments into the province.
On Dec. 18, the Visayas grid only had 240 megawatts (MW) of power reserves, the lowest compared to those of Luzon and Mindanao.
Visayas’ available generating capacity stood at 2,449 MW and system peak demand at 2,209 MW.
During the Power 101 forum hosted by NGCP on Dec. 12, 2023, NGCP assistant vice president and head for public affairs, lawyer Cynthia Perez-Alabanza, said that as power consumption increases with the full re-opening of the economy, Cebu needs additional capacity.
“Even during the pandemic when everything went to a grinding halt, power consumption hasn’t slowed down. Now, with the economy fully reopening, we are witnessing a substantial surge in power requirements,” said Alabanza.
Cebu, according to NGCP, accounts for half of the power demand of the Visayas. Cebu City, specifically, the Visayan Electric franchise, consumes half of the province’s demand.
“That’s how huge the demand of Cebu is,” said Alabanza, adding that this is the reason the P52 billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) passes directly to Cebu.
“All roads lead to Cebu when we talk about power consumption in the Visayas,” she added.
NGCP Network Operations senior manager for Visayas Systems Operations Abner Bardoquillo stressed Cebu’s need to have additional inland power plants to reduce its reliance on power from neighboring islands.
Alabanza said while the MVIP allows power sharing between Mindanao and the Visayas, this shouldn’t be relied on for everyday consumption.
“The interconnection is there to provide stability to the grid in case of emergencies,” she said. “Visayas should not rely on what it can borrow from other islands.”
In May 2023, the Visayas grid experienced its highest power demand, reaching a peak of 2,450 megawatts. NGCP also observes peak demand in December.
In a separate interview, Felix Taguiam, past president of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said if Cebu can achieve self-sufficiency in power generation, it could finally address Cebu’s high cost of power.
The Department of Energy and the NGCP have previously cited Cebu as among the main sites for large generation capacity additions, such as power plants that can consistently and continuously produce electricity at scale.
No grid alerts
Meanwhile, with the holidays approaching, NGCP sees a stable power outlook in the coming months.
“That is what we see for now. There are no deficiencies in the coming months. No reds or yellows,” said Alabanza.
But this could change if there would be problems with transmission and if power plants will have unscheduled shutdowns.
“In the past, we have observed multiple power plants going into emergency shutdown simultaneously. If there are sufficient number of plants on emergency shutdown, it may impact the overall balance. This occurrence has occurred several times in the past,” she said.
“But as of the moment, we do not see any grid alerts to issue in the next months.”